TROY — Mater Dei's 10-match volleyball winning streak over the Central Cougars came to a crashing end Thursday at the Class 3A Triad Regional.
Central senior Maddie Timmermann pounded out 14 kills and added four blocks as the Cougars overpowered the Knights 25-21, 25-19 to win the regional championship.
"It's awesome that we did it my senior year," Timmermann said after the Cougars (32-5) moved on to the Waterloo Sectional and beat Mater Dei for the first time since 2006. "I can't even explain it, it's just the best feeling ever."
Mater Dei's emotional season ended at 33-4 with Elle Gebke providing seven kills. Central will take on Benton in a Waterloo Sectional semifinal at 6 p.m. Tuesday.
After winning the first game 25-21, Central trailed 9-4 and 10-5 in the second. But riding the power of Timmermann and senior Maisie Kampwerth at the net, the Cougars quickly clawed their way back and grabbed an 18-15 lead.
Timmermann reached the front row again near the end of the match and the Maryville University recruit did not hesitate. She had kills on two of the last three points and was alongside 6-foot-1 sophomore Kendra Wilken for the match-winning block that kicked off the victory celebration.
"We had it in our minds that to us, this was the state championship," Timmermann said. "We knew that this would be the toughest game. We don't know what we have coming, but we still have to work hard the whole way through to finish it out the way we want to finish it out."
An intense rivalry added another chapter Thursday and despite the win, Central coach Jim Cook praised the play of the Knights.
"It's said over and over but nobody wants to listen," Cook said emphatically. "No way a caliber of team like they are should be going home this early. No way."
Mater Dei was playing without outside hitter Tori Johnson because of a concussion.
But even Johnson's presence may not have helped slow down Timmermann, whose thunderous kills were going right through the Knights' blocks on many occasions.
"Central had it tonight," Mater Dei coach Chad Rakers said. "Maddie was awfully tough to stop. We didn't stop her much. ... We were ready for her, we were there and she was finding a way to bang it through most of the night.
"I don't know what the answer is (even) now because we were there. Almost every one of those blocks were right there on top of her, give her credit."
An extremely tight first game went back and forth without either team putting together much of a run. But with the Knights leading 12-10, Central put together an 8-2 run to gain control and stayed in control the rest of the game.
A kill by Lydia Rehkemper and a tip kill by Timmermann closed it out and put the Knights on the defensive for Game 2.
Mater Dei responded quickly, forcing a Central error and building a 10-5 lead. But as she did all night, Timmermann imposed her will on the match and proved too tough for the Knights.
"They were getting two, three, four-point runs and you can't have that," Rakers said. "They served tough all night, they were very aggressive. I take that as a sign of respect to us that they knew they had to come at us that hard.
"I hope they go win it all."
There was no fancy game plan for the Cougars other than getting it to Timmermann as much as possible.
"That was the best shot we could have had," Cook said. "She's a senior, she's been playing for four years, starting for four years. She just goes non-stop, so you've got to go with what's going to get it done."
The match ended a rough season for Rakers, whose father --Hall of Fame former Mater Dei coach Fred Rakers --has been battling cancer since the summer.
Mater Dei (seven) and Central (three) have combined for 10 state volleyball championships, so Rakers knew what could be at stake.
"I told the girls between Game 1 and Game 2 this is a state title game," he said. "You've got to treat it like a state title game, there can't be one second where there's a time where you get caught watching the match and not staying involved."